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20+ Things to Do in Granada – Not Just the Alhambra (2024)!

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The majestic Alhambra is the attraction people visit Granada for but there are plenty of amazing things to do in Granada beyond the palace.

As this citadel has a Moorish history and links to the Reconquista, this Andalusian city in the Sierra Nevada mountains is a melting pot of culture with incredible attractions spread throughout. 

I was surprised by how much I loved this city. Not just for the historic places I could visit but the romantic views, friendly atmosphere and laid-back vibe. 

It’s a place plucked from the pages of a fairytale but I would give yourself at least a few days to experience all the magic it has to offer. 

Here are the best things to do in Granada that aren’t just the Alhambra Palace in Spain. 

Mirador San Nicholas viewpoint Granada

Top Granada Travel Resources

  • Don’t forget travel insurance, I always use World Nomads

A Brief History of Granada 

It’s not completely necessary to learn the history of Granada to appreciate it but I think it’s a good idea all the same.

Granada is a melting pot of history, culture and religion that has strong links to the Reconquista. 

This was a centuries-long period in Spanish history where Christian states expelled the Muslims (Moors) from their kingdoms who had settled there from the 8th century. 

The vast Moorish Kingdom of Granada fought a relentless battle and was the very last to territory fall in 1492 under the reign of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. 

These fierce rulers were the parents of Catherine of Aragon who spent her childhood at Alhambra before being whisked off to England to marry into the Tudor family. 

Alhambra Palace Granada

Alhambra Palace and Citadel, now Granada’s main attraction, then switched from a Nasrid palace to a Christian monarch stronghold and symbol of their power. 

That’s why you’ll find many Moorish monuments around Granada and the historic Albaicin district has an Islamic influence that was originally guarded by the old fortification walls. 

On the flip side, there are many monuments dedicated to Isabella and Ferdinand and their conquests like Granada Cathedral and the Royal Chapel.

This Mudéjar history has left behind a delightful range of attractions in Granada and you’ll experience a riot of culture and heritage on your visit!

Albaicin Granada
Albaicin District, Granada

Things to do in Granada

Although Alhambra is, without a doubt, the main attraction in Granada there are plenty of other things to do in Granada that make it worth visiting.

Whether you’re a history lover, culture junkie, art appreciator or a foodie craving tapas. There will be something waiting for you in this incredible Andalusian city. 

Alhambra Palace Granada
Courtyard of Myrtles, Alhambra

1. Alhambra Palace 

One of the best things to do in Granada is to visit Alhambra Palace. It’s a citadel that was constructed during the Moorish period by Nasrid Rulers between 1238 and 1358.

After the Reconquista, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand took up residence here. 

It sees well over 3 million people visit every year and there is so much to do there like the Nasrid Palaces, Alcazaba, Carlos V palace and the Generalife. 

I would allow the better part of a day to explore the Alhambra Palace as there is so much to see and do here. This is what I did and meant I could see everything at a relaxed pace. 

Your ticket comes with an extensive audio guide that you can listen to on your phone. This helped to paint a vivid picture and gave a great context to all the pieces that make up this fairytale fortress. 

Warning: DO NOT be late for your time slot to enter the Nasrid Palaces. The time on your ticket is your entry time and is binding. If you miss your entry time you won’t be able to go inside and will have to buy another ticket. Also, you must bring your passport/ID with you!

Alhambra Palace
Alhambra Palace

Highlights of Alhambra

Alhambra Citadel is vast and there are many attractions inside. Here are the main highlights you should prioritise on a visit;

Nasrid Palaces

The main highlight is the Nasrid Palaces which are stunning to behold. You will walk through the Courtyard of Myrtles and many staterooms that were used by Nasrid royalty.

The showstopper here has to be the Patio of the Lions. It has an impressive marble fountain with 12 carved lions that sprinkle out water! 

Alhambra Palace

Garden of the Partal

After you exit the Nasrid Palaces you’ll enter the beautiful Partal Gardens which has a Ladies’ Tower and the stunning Palacio Partal. 

Partal Palace Granada


The Alcazaba is the historic fortress of the Alhambra and is home to an ancient citadel.

Only a few watch towers remain and you can climb up these to get amazing views over the city of Granada and Albaicin.  

Alcazaba, Alhambra
The Alcazaba, Alhambra

Carlos V Palace

Unlike the rest of Moorish Alhambra, Carlos V Palace is a Renaissance building that started construction in 1527.

It houses a round courtyard and was only fully completed in 1923. There are now a few museums you can visit inside as well as a gift shop. 

Carlos V Palace Granada

Can you visit Alhambra for free?

Yes, you can visit quite a bit of Alhambra for free! It’s only the Nasrid Palaces, Alcazaba and Generalife that you pay for.

For example, the Carlos V Palace is free to enter and there are a few free/very cheap museums inside. 

The Alhambra History Museum is free and the Fine Arts Museum is free for EU members (It’s €1.50 for non-EU members – ugh Brexit).  

There is also a cathedral in Alhambra, a historic bathhouse and some shops you can visit free of charge as well.

Carlos V Palace

The Parador Hotel have a garden café / restaurant you can enjoy that overlooks the Generalife Garden. Although not free, drinks aren’t too pricey.

You could spend hours strolling around the citadel appreciating the views and soaking up the atmosphere for free. 

There are even some snack shacks dotted around the place that sell drinks like wine/beer for €1.60 a glass! 

I always recommend going inside the paid attractions as they are bucket list activities but if you’re on a strict budget you can still enjoy Alhambra without paying a single euro cent. 

Fine Arts Museum in Carlos V Palace
Fine Arts Museum in Carlos V Palace

Warning about buying tickets for Alhambra 

You should only book your tickets for Alhambra Palace & Generalife on the official website

A General Alhambra ticket should cost you €19.09 but they do have combo tickets for the historic attractions in the city too for €27.

There are SO many third-party ticket sites for Alhambra and many of these charge a huge premium. Some charge double the price of a general ticket and this should be illegal in my opinion. 

Things to do in Granada

Beyond the cost, although your ticket would be valid if something were to go wrong on the day it’s harder to solve with a third-party company than Alhambra itself.

I found that the official website had way more availability too. Even on the day of my visit (granted it was early Feb), I saw many tickets were still available. 

Always be very careful when you’re purchasing tickets for attractions in Spain online. If in doubt, I found the Visit Spain website a reliable source for genuine attraction websites. 

Nasrid Palaces Alhambra
Nasrid Palaces, Alhambra

2. Generalife & Gardens

The Generalife was built as a summer palace for the Nasrid sultans and loosely translates to “Garden of the Artist”. 

True to its name, you’ll find the ornate planned gardens filled with trees, hedgerows and colourful blooms.

It was built as a place where the rulers could escape and relax away from court but they weren’t too far away if there was any emergency or danger.

The main highlight would be the Patio de la Acequia, or Courtyard of the Canal, with its impressive fountains.

The entire gardens and complex has spectacular panoramic terraces overlooking the Alhambra Palace and Citadel. Plus, you’ll exit through the scenic Walk of the Oleanders.

I could have spent hours wandering around these gardens. Look out for features like the Patio de Polo, Romantic Pavilion and the Water Staircase.

Generalife Patio
Generalife Patio de la Acequia

3. Mirador San Nicholas Viewpoint

One of the best places to see the Alhambra in Granada is the Mirador San Nicholas viewpoint.

It’s best visited at sunset but don’t expect to be alone. It’s one of the most popular attractions in the city.

I’d recommend getting there at least an hour before sunset to grab a spot. You can listen to music, see flamenco dancing and enjoy the vibes.

If the crowds are too much, you can always grab a drink at one of the bars overlooking the viewpoint. I found it much nicer!

Click here to read my complete guide for Mirador de San Nicolás!

Mirador San Nicholas Viewpoint

4. Albaicin District 

Granada has a Moorish history and the Albaicin district is the oldest area in the city.  It has strong Islamic influences and it used to be guarded by fortification walls in the medieval era. 

Today, it’s a striking hotch-potch of white-washed housing that almost looks like a Moroccan medina with the houses stacked on top of each other. It’s one of the best things to do in Granada.

You can take a wander through the labyrinth of steep and cobbled streets to appreciate this historic neighbourhood. 

Albaicin District Granada

5. Carrera del Darro

the Albaicin neighbourhood is best appreciated by taking a stroll beside the Darro River on Carrera del Darro. 

This area is home to a plethora of 16th-century houses, bridges and the Church of Santa Ana that create a quaint scene. 

I loved that you could see the towers of Alhambra above you as you stroll past the many shops and attractions. 

There are so many photo opportunities along this historic street too. It’s fabulous!

Carrera del Darro Granada
Carrera del Darro
Carrera del Darro Granada

6. El Bañuelo

One of the historic attractions you can visit on Carrera del Darro is El Bañuelo which is an Arab bathhouse.

It’s called Hamman al-Yawza (Baths of the Walnut Tree) or Baño del Nogal and was built before the Alhambra in the 11th century. 

A hammam in Islamic culture involves the purification of the body and spirit through baths and other hygienic care. 

Similar to Roman baths, the water was naturally heated and it had several rooms like a cold room, steam room and warm baths.

Although this bathhouse was used for hygiene, it was also where important political and business meetings took place. 

These baths are some of the finest preserved remains in Spain. It’s small and dark but the starry skylights create a magical atmosphere inside!

Entry is € 7.35 but this gives you entry to several other historic monuments in Granada. 

El Banuelo Granada
El Bañuelo

7. El Maristan

Just around the corner from El Bañuelo is El Maristan which was a historic hospital in Granada during the Nasrid Dynasty. 

There is reason to believe that the Maristan of Granada was inspired by Moroccan Marinids. It was founded in 1365 by the Nasrid Sultan Muhammad V and opened in 1367.

It was abandoned for decades but has now reopened as a tourist attraction and is included in a historic attractions ticket.

There isn’t much there aside from the building and a few exhibition rooms today. But, they have grand plans to restore El Maristan to its former glory, so watch this space.

El Maristan Granada

8. Paseo de los Tristes

If you keep walking along the River Darro, you’ll eventually reach Paseo de los Tristes.

This lively square provides incredible panoramic views of the Alhambra above you, especially by the central fountain.

You’ll find plenty of musicians and flamenco dancers throughout the day and it provides a vibrant atmosphere.

There are many restaurants and cafés here to relax and enjoy the vista too. It’s perfect for lunch or dinner. 

Passeo de los Tristes Granada
Passeo de los Tristes

9. Carmen de la Victoria

One of my favourite attractions in the Albaicin district has to be Carmen de la Victoria. It has one of the best views of Alhambra Palace. 

It’s a fine example of a traditional Andalusian estate and gardens dating back to the 19th century.

You can take a stroll through their manicured gardens and terraces. There are orchards, hedges, trellises fruit trees, and fountains. Plus, colourful backdrops of the house. 

Entry is free but note that you’re not allowed in the home as it’s student accommodation today. 

It’s open in the morning until 1 pm and then opens later in the evening. Just ring the doorbell at the gate and someone in reception will buzz you in!

Carmen de la Victoria Granada
Carmen de la Victoria

10. Granada Cathedral

After the Battle of Granada in 1492, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragorn quickly started to solidify their Christian rule and influence in the city.

In 1518, they called for a huge cathedral to be constructed on top of the Great Mosque in the centre of the old Muslim Medina to send a powerful message. 

It has a blend of Gothic and Spanish Renaissance styles and has many triumphal arches, portals and annexes. It’s filled with Renaissance artwork, gold and idols.

The central dome of the cathedral is the most impressive feature with its starry skies in blue and gold, stained glass windows and Christian statues.

Entry is 5 euros and it’s well worth exploring, it also gives you a respite from the heat. It’s one of the best things to do in Granada. 

You could spend hours admiring all the details. I particularly loved the huge books they had in display cases with scripted artwork and text. 

Granada Cathedral
Granada Cathedral
Granada Cathedral
Granada Cathedral

11. Royal Chapel of Granada

The Royal Chapel of Granada (Capilla Real de Granada) is connected to the cathedral but it’s a separate attraction.

Beyond the Alhambra, this was one of my favourite things to do in Granada. It was built between 1505 and 1517 in the Isabelline Gothic style on the orders of Queen Isabella. 

In the chapel, you can see the Royal Epitaph of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand as well see their coffins in the tomb beneath it. 

Royal Chapel of Granada

In the UK, although we can visit the tombs of past monarchs in places like Westminster Abbey we rarely (if ever) get to see the actual coffins they are buried in. So, it was quite novel to experience something like that. 

As part of your visit, you can admire several ornate chapels where the monarchs used to pray and can admire an extensive Renaissance art gallery. 

Entry is 6 euros and includes an audio guide that you can download on your phone and gives you more context on the chapel and its importance. 

I would leave around 30 minutes to an hour to explore the chapel, photography is strictly prohibited.

Royal Chapel of Granada
Royal Chapel of Granada

12. La Alcaicería market

Just beside Granada Cathedral, you can find the vibrant and colourful Alcaicería market which resembles a Moorish Medina. 

You’ll find stalls selling all sorts of colourful lamps, clothes, artwork and rugs. It’s a riot of patterns, arches and colour.

If you’re looking for souvenirs, I would recommend buying one of the pomegranate ornaments for luck as the pomegranate is a strong symbol in Granada. 

Catherine of Aragon used to wear a pomegranate brooch and so Henry VIII put the symbol on his coat of arms in her honour after they got married. 

Just beyond the main square, they had a cool shop called Medievo. As the name suggests, it’s a medieval shop that sold all sorts of organic herbs and spices plus medieval souvenirs in amongst Knight’s armour and weapons.

The smell was pretty intense but I could have spent an age admiring everything. 

 La Alcaicería market Granada
La Alcaicería

13. Churros at Gran Café Bib-Rambla

Churros are very common in Spain but I will never forget how good the Churros were at the Gran Café Bib-Rambla.

This historic café is more like an institution in the city and was founded in 1907. It has an awesome Art-Deco theme with a colourful Tiffany glass chandelier.

As I hadn’t tried Churros con Chocolate yet, I decided to indulge and ordered 3 churros with chocolate…only to realise they were HUGE.

Gran Cafe Bib-Rambla Granada
Gran Café Bib-Rambla

Unlike the traditional thinner churros you will find around Spain, these churros were massive and almost like long doughnuts. Add the enormous chocolate dip and sprinkling of sugar and I was done for. 

I’m not complaining but my only regret is that I couldn’t finish them. It was just too big for one person. It’s definitely something you should share. 

Regardless, if you want to try this sweet delicacy, Gran-Café Bib-Rambla is the place to do it!

Gran Cafe Bib-Rambla Churros
Churros con Chocolate

14. Corral de Carbon 

Corral de Carbon, also known as al-Funduq al-Jadida, can be found in the south of the Albaicin district.

It was built by Yusuf I during the Nasrid Dynasty as a grain storage, corn exchange and auction room in 1336.

In the 16th century, the Christians adapted this building as an open-air theatre and performances still happen in the summer months. 

Corral de Carbon Granada

The most impressive feature is the grand ornate archway that you can find at the entrance. This has been heavily restored due to it falling into decay in the 20th century.

When you walk through the gate, you’ll get to see the remains of a grand courtyard and central basin. There is also a Legado Andalusí bookshop to check out. 

Entry is completely free and it’s the only one of its kind remaining in Spain. So, it’s worth taking a look if you have time! 

Corral de Carbon Granada
Corral de Carbon

15. Plaza Nueva

Despite the name of ‘new square’ this is the oldest square in Granada which lies near Carrer del Darro. 

The Church of Santa Anna is a highlight as it’s surrounded by colourful buildings and has a historic fountain nearby. 

It’s also the gateway to Alhambra and there are many restaurants and bars that you can visit here. 

Plaza Nueva Granada

16. Tapas Crawl

Is it even a Spanish city if you don’t go on a tapas crawl and stuff your face with yummy plates of local cuisine?

Although Seville may be the birthplace of tapas, Granada has its fair share of tasty restaurants.

Whenever you buy a drink in Granada, you get a free plate of tapas. But, there are only a few restaurants that can provide a truly local experience.

If this is what you’re looking for, make sure to head into Los Diamantes on Plaza Nueva that have some of the finest tapas around.

Their speciality is seafood and many people order it crispy and fried. But, I personally loved their Gambas Pil which comes in a terracotta dish. You can use your bread to wipe up the bubbling chilli garlic oil! 

Los Diamantes Granada Tapas Gambas Pil
I dream about these prawns… take me back!

17. Hammam Al Andalus

Although most of the Arab bathhouses you visit in Granada are ruins, there are places where you can experience a traditional hammam. 

Hammam Al Andalus is a luxury spa in the Albaicin district that provides a range of warm baths along with aromatic treatments. 

You can take their water journey which will give you serenity and then treat yourself to one of their traditional Andalusian massages using essential oils.

The entire place looks like a dream and is decorated with Mudéjar tiles and lanterns lit by candlelight. It’s one of the best things to do in Granada. 

Having been to public hammams in Morocco and Turkey, this certainly looks a huge step above that. If you’ve had a busy few days of sightseeing why not treat yourself to some pampering? 

Granada Hammam Al-Andalus

18. Casa Horno del Oro 

If you have bought a historic attractions ticket for Granada, then you can also visit attractions like Casa Horno del Oro.

Located in a small alleyway off Paseo de los Tristes, you can enter a small Nasrid house and courtyard. 

The Moorish residence has two symmetrical porticos and a central patio with a water feature. A second floor was added in the 16th century.  

There’s not much here beyond the central courtyard if I’m being honest. You can walk up the stairs and see the empty galleries and rooms. 

But, it’s still worth checking out to see how the wealthier residents of Albaicin lived back in the day. 

Casa Horno del Oro

19. Calle Calderería Nueva

The beating heart of the Albaicin district is Calle Calderería Nueva which is a vibrant market street. 

It has a heavy Moorish influence and a stroll provides a mix of colourful stalls, Baklava shops, Arabic restaurants and Salons de Thé with shisha

Honestly, if I didn’t already know I was in Spain I could have been fooled into thinking I was wandering around a Moroccan Medina. 

Albaicin Granada

The stalls were filled with colourful lamps, shisha pipes, vibrant clothing and all sorts of Andalusian souvenirs you can pick up. 

I loved all their glazed tile products you could browse. I bought so many magnets, mugs and pens here. 

Make sure to leave a good amount of time to explore this street as there is so much to see, eat and experience. It’s one of the best things to do in Granada.

Albaicin Market Street Granada

20. Sacromonte 

Sacromonte is another historic neighbourhood in Granada and forms part of the six areas of the Albaicin district. 

It’s traditionally a Romani neighbourhood and the residents used to live in white-washed cave houses. 

You can visit the ethnographic Sacromonte Cave Museum to learn about the history of this area.

There are exhibitions on the culture, Caró language and how people used to live in these cave-dwellings 100 years ago.

Most people visit Sacromonte for the flamenco shows that take place every evening in the caves. You can sip on a drink or enjoy dinner whilst you watch!

Sacromonte Granada

21. Palacio de Dar al-Horra

Palacio de Dar al-Horra means “Home of the Honest” and is a historic house near Mirador San Nicolás in Albaicin.

It was the official residence of Aixa la-Horra. She was the wife of Muley Hacén and mother of Boabdil, the last Emir of Granada.

After the conquest, this house was transferred by Queen Isabelle and King Ferdinand to their secretary Hernando de Zafra and he used it as his official residence. 

Palacio de Dar al-Horra
Palacio de Dar al-Horra

For whatever reason, he wanted to turn it into a monastery but failed. So, Queen Isabella turned into a Franciscan convent for nuns as part of the Monastery of Santa Isabel la Real.

The house has many Moorish elements with a central courtyard and ornate carvings and architecture.

Although there is no furniture, the best part about visiting was the panoramic views of Alhambra and the city you could see out of the carved arch windows. 

Palacio de Dar al-Horra

22. Basílica de San Juan de Dios

The Basilica de San Juan de Dios was built between 1737 and 1759 in Granada. As far as Catholic temples go this is breathtaking as it’s decorated head to toe in silver and gold. 

The solid gold altar will attract your attention the most in the main chapel as it is splendorous. 

There are several Renaissance frescos by Diego Sanchez Sarabia and Italian artists such as Corrado Giaquinto.

It’s well worth going inside if you have time. Entry is €7 and you get an audio guide on your phone included. It’s one of the best things to do in Granada.

How to visit Granada in Spain 

Granada is located in the Andalusia region of Spain and has an airport. But, it’s very easy to visit from Madrid, Cordoba or Seville by train as well. 

As there aren’t any direct flights from London to Granada, I landed in Seville and then took one of the direct Renfe Trains to Granada.

The journey was really comfortable and it only took around 2 and a half hours to reach the city. Make sure to book your tickets in advance as certain journeys tend to sell out. 

Top tip, you can also book your train tickets through the Trainline app. I ended up getting a bit of a discount!

Things to do in Granada Spain

How many days do you need in Granada?

Some people choose to take a day trip to Granada to see the famous Alhambra Palace. But, I would argue that you would miss out on some of the charm of this city if you rush.

I would say you need a minimum of 2 days in Granada to appreciate it and see all the attractions at a relaxed pace.

I would plan one day to visit the Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens and another to explore the city and the plethora of amazing attractions it has to offer.

Things to do in Granada Carlos V Palace

Why not book a Granada day trip? 

If you’re stuck for time on your Andalusia trip, you can book a Granada day trip from places like Cordoba and Seville. 

Here are some links to popular Granada group tours;

Granada Spain

Is Granada worth visiting?

100% YES, I wasn’t expecting to like Granada as much as I did. I fell head over heels in love with it in the end and I didn’t want to leave.

Of course, I knew the fairytale castle of Alhambra was there and that was going to be the highlight.

However, it was the laid-back charm of this Moorish city surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountains that won me over.  

There are so many things to do in Granada aside from the Alhambra Palace. But, you have to allow yourself time to explore so you can immerse yourself in this melting pot of culture and appreciate its beauty. 

Don’t skip a visit to Granada in Spain, it’s a highlight of Andalusia and you won’t regret a thing. 

Things to do in Granada Spain
Nasrid Palaces of Alhambra

Where to stay in Granada

There are many places to stay in Granada but it all depends on what is convenient to you.

The Alhambra sits high up on a hillside so if you wanted to avoid a long walk to the castle, I would recommend staying around here. 

I stayed in the Aurea Washington Irving Hotel which is a five-star property and is only a 5-minute walk from the entrance of the citadel. My room overlooked the outer towers of the Alhambra.

Aurea Washington Irving Hotel Granada
A view of Alhambra from my room in Aurea Washington Irving Hotel

There’s also the Alhambra Palace Hotel nearby which looked amazing with it’s cuppola and views over Granada. 

But, did you know that you can stay in Alhambra itself? The Parador Hotel used to be an ancient monastery and now is a luxury hotel with a restaurant and gardens overlooking the Generalife. 

Parador Hotel Alhambra
Parador Hotel Alhambra

Read more of my Spain travel guides 

How to visit Cordoba Mosque-Cathedral for free

Plaza de España – Visit Naboo from Star Wars

Archivos de Indias – hidden gem in Seville

Casa de Pilatos – hidden gem Palace in Seville 

30+ Instagrammable places in Barcelona

14+ Things to do in Park Güell 

Casa Batlló – visit Gaudi’s Dragon House of Bones

Casa Vicens – don’t skip Gaudi’s first house

How to visit Bunkers del Carmel in Barcelona

The gorgeous Cascada Monumental 

Discover Sant Pau Recinte Modernista 

Secrets of Pont Del Bisbe Bridge

How to visit the Kiss Wall Barcelona

Why you must visit the Fairy Bar in Barcelona

You must visit Palau de la Musica Catalana

Save the best things to do in Granada for later! 

Things to do in Granada Spain

Here are some Spain travel resources

  • Flights: I use Skyscanner to look for flight deals. Try to be flexible with travel dates for the best prices.
  • Accommodation: is my go-to hotel platform and I’ve used them for years. 
  • Public transport: You can book trains through the official Renfe site. Also, Trainline works and I found it cheaper on some journeys.
  • Car rental: Rental Cars is a great choice that compares all sorts of rental companies and gets you the best price.
  • Activities: I love GetYourGuide and use the platform all the time for booking group tours and attraction tickets.
  • e-Reader: I love to read Romantasy books and I always take my beloved Kindle Oasis with me. It has an orange light and is waterproof which is perfect for lounging by the pool.
  • Travel insurance: I always use World Nomads to book travel insurance. You never know when you’ll need cover!